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Old June 15th, 2006, 08:44 AM
Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison is offline
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Default Film better for B&W ?

Well here is the question. After discussing B&W in another thread I am wondering if b&W film developed on photographic paper is better than a B&W digital print.

My reason being, I am tempted to go retro and get myself a Canon f-1. Then shoot B&W, develop my own negs and enlarge them in a darkroom.

What do yout think, is one better than the other, is it worth the investment to have both?

Thanks!
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Old June 15th, 2006, 12:18 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Harrison
Well here is the question. After discussing B&W in another thread I am wondering if b&W film developed on photographic paper is better than a B&W digital print.

My reason being, I am tempted to go retro and get myself a Canon f-1. Then shoot B&W, develop my own negs and enlarge them in a darkroom.

What do yout think, is one better than the other, is it worth the investment to have both?

Thanks!
Daniel,

if one shoots digital, one can of course print on a Lambda or a Lightjet each of exposes classic light sensitive film paper and looks like analog photgraphy.

Regular film is IMHO is for particlar look that's in your style.

Digital B and W has the greatest capability for creating the final product. However, you have to be creative to get the most out of it.

Asher

Last edited by Asher Kelman; June 20th, 2006 at 03:22 AM.
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Old June 15th, 2006, 05:31 PM
Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison is offline
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OK, so you do not think that using film on paper will give me many more possibilities. I guess I am a little intrigued by developing my own stuff. I have never done it before, apart from in RSP :-)

Thanks for the reply!
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Old June 15th, 2006, 05:56 PM
Greg Noakes Greg Noakes is offline
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Daniel
I have 5 Canon F-1's, lenses & a complete darkroom all boxed up & living in my roof here in Melbourne
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Old June 15th, 2006, 09:02 PM
Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison is offline
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Hi Greg, I sent you a PM. Thanks!
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Old June 16th, 2006, 09:11 AM
Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison is offline
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So anyone else have any feelings on B&W film vs. Digital? Obviously I am not going to switch or anything - you would have to pry my digital camera out of my cold hands LOL. Digital gives the most flexability as Asher said, just interested in peoples feelings on B&W film :-)
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Old June 16th, 2006, 01:48 PM
Alain Briot Alain Briot is offline
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Film is dead ;-) Do you miss all these colored filters?

I have a 20 page answer in my last essay "Paradigm Shift". You can read the introduction and part 1 on my site at:
http://beautiful-landscape.com/Thoughts43.html
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Old June 18th, 2006, 10:23 AM
David White David White is offline
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Daniel,

I don't think your question can really be answered in the context in which you asked it. What you need to be asking is which is better for you based on your requirements. If you have the luxury of time, there is nothing wrong with the darkroom experience and you should be able to produce very satisfying prints. I think that there is an "experience" in the darkroom that is not duplicated in the digital world.

That being said, I believe that you will have a lot more control over the creation of your image in the digital domain. Dodging, burning, masking and other darkroom techniques are much easier in digital and give you more control over the final image than you could ever get in the darkroom.

You may want to consider a hybrid, as I do with medium format film. Develop the film yourself, then scan it and continue work in the digital domain. You would then have numerous options for printing. You could output your image to a film recorder or imagesetter in a large enough size to make a contact print in the darkroom, or you could even make a negative on your printer which could be used to make a silver print. Or you could just make your print on your printer if a silver print isn't needed. The options for a hybrid process are numerous. You could take a look at Dan Burkholder's book, Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing or his website for ideas.
.
As far as the quality of the prints on silver vs inkjet, that is probably a question that you have to answer for yourself through comparison. You will find reams of arguments on both sides of the issue.

Last edited by David White; June 18th, 2006 at 01:59 PM. Reason: fix typo
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Old June 20th, 2006, 03:28 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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For most users digital is the most economical and practical. for advanced users, digital B&W offers the most creative potential as one can assign colors to different liight intesities. The potential for creativity is huge.

However, for someone shooting a large detail rich scene on a budget, and avoiding stitching, inexpensive large format film is the answer. Also, pure platinum prints have certain presence that are unique.

Asher

Last edited by Asher Kelman; March 19th, 2007 at 10:58 AM.
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  #10  
Old June 20th, 2006, 05:53 AM
Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison is offline
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Thanks everyone,
I think I will pass on the film and stick with spending the time and resources I have on digital. Thanks for all your suggestions, maybe one day I will have to play with a darkroom, just for the experience, but not now :-)
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  #11  
Old June 22nd, 2006, 03:13 AM
Rob.Martin Rob.Martin is offline
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Default Would not have got this one

With Digital, I got this very spur of the moment, only a fleeting moment before they disappeared.
With film, I think I may not have got it. But I think B&W film is nice, as are transparencies, scanned.
Horses for courses, each to their own.
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  #12  
Old June 25th, 2006, 10:09 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Although I do shoot B&W digitally, I would say that other than an extremely expensive and custom solution, in which much time has been sweated into, a B&W print on silver paper has a 'something' that I've not seen even with top inkjets and certainly not from a chemically processed file on colour paper. I would love to investigate having digital files printed on silver paper which theoretically should give the best of both worlds, but I'm yet to find a lab here in the UK that does this and does it well.

p.s., for the original poster, if you are looking for retro then don't waste your time with 35mm especially SLR, get a nice TLR or a med format rangefinder such as those from Fuji or Mamiya and really make those negs sing! The prices are so cheap these days it's worth doing it just to try it out. I almost invested in a G2 with lenses that was for sale at a silly price, but as I was going to scan anyway I couldn't justify the cost and bother compared to high res digital.
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  #13  
Old February 16th, 2007, 12:15 PM
Michael_Stones Michael_Stones is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alain Briot View Post
Film is dead ;-) Do you miss all these colored filters?

I have a 20 page answer in my last essay "Paradigm Shift". You can read the introduction and part 1 on my site at:
http://beautiful-landscape.com/Thoughts43.html
Although this is an old post, I gotta say that an announcement of the death of film seems premature. Photo outlets and labs continue to sell and process film. Kodak and Fuiji continue to modify their films or introduce new products. Epson and other companies continue to update scanners used for film or introduce new models. Photographers continue to buy new film cameras or used models at bargain prices from ebay and other sources. Maybe film is a "Dead Man Walking", but it still has a spring in its stride.
Of course, much of what Alain says in his thoughtful "Paradigm Shift" article is beyond question. Digital photography is growing and the use of film declining. But the two forms are not in opposition. I shoot film but process digitally. To get the quality I want that's the best option for me. Scanning a 6*12cm negative on a $750 scanner gives amazing resolution in a 700mb Photoshop file. Maybe a digital back costing $XX,000 can do nearly as well, but I dunno. Ken Rockwell on his internet site wrote last Monday that "Digital cameras are disposable." and the same surely applies to even the highest priced digital backs. You can buy a heck of a lot of film for the cost of a disposable digital.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 06:42 AM
Matt Needham Matt Needham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Harrison View Post
Well here is the question. After discussing B&W in another thread I am wondering if b&W film developed on photographic paper is better than a B&W digital print.
"Better" is a pretty subjective term. Maybe you could explain further what you are trying to achieve? I've seen amazing BW photos from both film and digital cameras, traditional, digital, and hybrid processes and printing. I've seen plenty of crap from all of the above too. In the end I'm a firm believer that "better" photographs have more to do with the individual preferences, skills, and effort invested by the photographer.

I still keep my home BW darkroom up and running, although I'm wonderfully excited about what I'm doing in Photoshop in the next room. There is no doubt in my mind that digital allows me much more precision and control, and many techniques that would take me all day in the darkroom take only moments in PS. On the other hand it's probably going to be more than a few years before I can afford any digital gear that compares well to the 4x5 film equipment I already own. DSLRs have definately replaced 35mm in my shooting, with a few exceptions for classic or vintage gear that I just enjoy using. I still shoot a fair amount of BW medium format film.

Four years ago I didn't think I'd be trying out digital anytime soon; I really believed I wouldn't like it as much as film and traditional processes. Today I wouldn't give up either film or digital, and with the great deals available in the used film gear market it's not too hard to do both. In the future I think I will be predominantly using digital; I believe the advances in technology in the near future will allow me to do things I can barely imagine with film. But since my film cameras and enlargers drop in value everyday, I'll probably still be holding on to them too. :)

EDIT: If I didn't have my own BW darkroom, or access to one, I wouldn't be shooting film. Dropping film off at the lab is a drag, IMHO.
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Old March 21st, 2007, 12:52 AM
Will Thompson Will Thompson is offline
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It shure is hard to change the filter after the fact with B&W film!

With Canon RAW and DPP you just slide the slider.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 10:42 PM
Erie Patsellis Erie Patsellis is offline
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Will, I agree to a point, however once one develops (no pun intended) a good sense of previsualization, the point is moot, as you can previsualize, shoot and know exactly what you will get.

Alain, I'll gladly take all the filters you care to get rid of.

Daniel, if you really want the best of both worlds, shoot either 6x7 (RB67) or large format (4x5 or 8x10) and print digitally. With the advent of true gray scale printers (Epson and HP) you can truly get a neutral gray, in fact you are able to get a longer linear tonal range digitally than you can with film, once you have spent the time to really get to know your process. There is something so very satisfying about looking at an 8x10 negative, it defies description, not to mention composing on a nice big piece of ground glass.


erie
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Old April 18th, 2007, 09:58 AM
Erik DeBill Erik DeBill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Thompson View Post
It shure is hard to change the filter after the fact with B&W film!

With Canon RAW and DPP you just slide the slider.
That is one big advantage for digital, but you can do the same by shooting color film and then doing a color->black and white conversion after scanning.

The big advantage to digital manipulation goes away if you scan your film. At that point film + scanner is just a rather laborious replacement for a digital sensor and you have the same flexibility with the resulting files that you would with RAWs.

Now, if I could just get an anti-dust system for my film....
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Old April 25th, 2007, 03:54 PM
Kevin Bjorke Kevin Bjorke is offline
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It all depends on what you want. Some images are easy for film, hard for digital. There is value in the object, too (hence the enduring collectability of daguerreotypes)

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Old July 7th, 2007, 10:50 PM
Maris Rusis Maris Rusis is offline
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I think the reasons for using film and making black and white photographs on light sensitive surfaces do not depend on how the pictures look.

Electronically controlled picture printing machines are only in their technical infancy and already they can closely replicate pictures made in almost any medium. If appearances are the only things that count then quick, easy, cheap digital methods are all that is needed.

One thing that electronics cannot deliver, that conventional black and white film and paper do deliver, is the physical connection of subject and photograph. Stuff that was part of the subject matter travels across space and physically burrows into film to cause a picture where it lodges. Similarly the negative is physically and directly connected to the (say) gelatin-silver photograph. Nothing in this sequence involves information, data, or memory.

Mostly all this does not matter but sometimes it is crucial. If one offers a genuine gelatin-silver photograph of, say, a living dinosaur to the Times newspaper one might get a million dollars. If one offers an electronically processed dino pic to the same newspaper one might get a chuckle, but only if it was well done.

Trickery is always possible but the direct physical nature of the classic black and white photograph makes it seriously difficult to fool an experienced picture editor. With pictures that are processed at some stage as information or data then trickery is trivially easy and the digital dinosaur is dismissed out of hand.

It is as if the classic black and white photograph is physical evidence and the electronically processed image is asserted testimony. Testimony is useful but its credibility is no better than the bona fides of the attestor. That is if you want to believe them.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 12:19 PM
Frank Doorhof Frank Doorhof is offline
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It all depends.
I love to shoot high iso B&W film on the RZ67 and 645.
Somehow the 12 bits RAWs never gave me what I wanted.
I have to admit that with the Leaf Aptus 16 bits files the B&W conversions look great, but I just love the grain from Ilford Delta3200 :D
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Old May 30th, 2008, 08:16 PM
doug anderson doug anderson is offline
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What makes me sad is that I have two medium format cameras, a Mamiya 6x7 and Mamiya 645, with beautiful lenses, and I can't afford the equivalent in digital medium formats. Therefore, film will be around for a while for me.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 09:18 PM
David A. Goldfarb David A. Goldfarb is offline
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I've seen some interesting B&W images (meaning images reproduced in magazines and such, where print quality wasn't an issue) that began as digital, but I've yet to see a B&W inkjet print that has the richness and fine gradation of a fine silver print. That's not to say that there aren't some very competent B&W inkjet prints out there, or that by printing in silver one will match the best inkjet prints without some effort, or that print quality is the only issue in making a good photograph, but I think inkjet B&W is still not there yet in 2008, and there is still plenty of reason to shoot B&W film and to print it on silver by contact printing or projection.

There are some interesting possibilities using LightJet/Lambda on Ilford's silver paper for digital laser output, and for smaller prints the DeVere digital enlarger (up to about 20x24"), but there aren't so many people using these technologies yet, and anything involving LightJet/Lambda involves going through a lab that has one, which adds another wrinkle.

Hybrid printing is yet another interesting area. Keith Taylor is making some outstanding platinum and three-layer gum prints from digital enlarged negatives and digital separations. I've seen the prints he has made for Cy DeCosse. These media don't have the resolution of a glossy silver gelatin print, so digital artifacts are not as much of a problem, but platinum has a beautiful tonal scale and three-layer gum can produce a range of interesting textures that trump resolution in these media. I think there are a lot of great possibilities here for photographers who shoot digital, but want to try traditional processes dating from the beginnings of photography like salted-paper printing, carbon, cyanotype, VanDyke brown, gum bichromate, platinum/palladium, Ziatype (actually a modern palladium printing-out process), and other handcoated processes.

There are other issues with digital capture like "small-sensor aesthetic" vs. using medium or large format that might lead one to choose film over digital.
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  #23  
Old May 30th, 2008, 09:49 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug anderson View Post
What makes me sad is that I have two medium format cameras, a Mamiya 6x7 and Mamiya 645, with beautiful lenses, and I can't afford the equivalent in digital medium formats. Therefore, film will be around for a while for me.
Doug,

What's sad about it? It's a great time for film cameras as so many are on the market with great lenses at almost "for-free" prices! Imagine no computer, no electricity, no chips to lose, no cords or chargers. slip a camera in your jacket pocket or shoulder bag/back pack and you are pretty well free of 2008!

If you only need 50 pictures or so a month to super-enlarge or to make contact prints, then film is such an economical choice and jumps over digital so easily. For pros, digital is king*!

Asher

*For busy pros, processing and film costs are far too high and the workflow is faster with digital. Digital pays for itself. If you have to rent a crane, lights and a crew to get a shot of a city center in
Dubai then using digital is paid for. Still, if you want to take up there an 8"x20" film camera you have the luxury of having that or anything else to shoot your style. Chances are that digital will be the most useful solution 99% of the time. For some shots, Might well be superior but up on a crane the wind might treat the camera bellows as a sail!
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